“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10
Israel was a nation chosen by God for His purpose of ultimately adopting humanity into the Triune God circle. With Abraham, God began moving history towards His foreordained purpose. From the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we have the twelve tribes of Israel; that turned into the nation of Israel under Saul, David, and Solomon; that eventually led to the birth of Jesus Christ and the redemption of humanity. So whenever we look at the nation of Israel and are honest with ourselves, don’t we view our own life through a similar mirror? How often do we look at the nation of Israel and shake our heads in amazement of their disbelief and behavior in their walk with the Lord? Yet if we be honest with ourselves, are we any different?
Around 500 B.C. Nehemiah was a governmental leader and Ezra the high priest. After the nation came out of another painful stupor of being disciplined, they rediscovered the Torah and the Words of God written for them. So on this day, the 1st day of their 7 month, they celebrated the Feast of Booths, a celebration of their harvest season. The feast was a seven day event followed by one last great day. The first and last day of the feast were Sabbatical Holy days and the nation would assembly and worship their God. This day though the nation rediscovered the Words of God and celebrated by reconfirming disciplines that they had previously stopped conducting.
In the midst of their celebration, Nehemiah expressed the concept that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Not Israel’s joy. Not Nehemiah’s joy. Not anyone’s joy but the Lord’s. In fact, doesn’t this imply that our Lord has joy that he wants to share with others? Doesn’t this also imply that His joy is stronger and more effective than any joy we may experience apart from him? Also, doesn’t this imply that our Lord wants us to experience His joy?
A recent poll revealed that most parents want their children to grow up happy and successful. The poll didn’t ask the parents to define happy or successful, but that they wanted the best for their children. Yet many parents have difficulty in separating happiness from joy. Happiness as many of us old timers have discovered, is a byproduct of the surrounding circumstances and physical components in our life. The challenge is that many of the circumstances we desire and believe need to be happy are outside of one’s control and are dependent on physical stimulus or expectations that may or may not occur. In other words, happiness is a temporary condition that always seem slightly out-of-our-reach. Yet on the other hand, joy is the fruit of a Spirit that perpetually and naturally exudes real, in-depth rejoicing from the inside-out. It doesn’t rely on outside or physical stimulus to celebrate; it simply and naturally expresses itself because Joy is an attribute of the Triune God that lives in the soul of a believer.
So when we say our strength is in the joy of the Lord, we acknowledge that God’s Spirit resides in us, empowers us, and expresses His life through us. That our courage and backbone is found in Christ, celebrated with the Holy Spirit, and uplifted by the Creator’s own divine nature that passes in us, through us, and from us. As we desist, He increases. As we view life through His eyes, His plans, and His purposes, we rejoice with Him and He rejoices with us. We become one in Spirit and one in Purpose and one in Joy. And with such joy, wouldn’t that be a strong attribute that glorifies God and His people? Isn’t this the type of joy (and real happiness) we all truly want?
Our heavenly Joyous Father, Lord, and Spirit: thank you for expressing your life in us and through us and with us. Thank you for allowing us to experience your life in us and through us and with us. Thank you for sharing your life and especially your attribute of joy. Shower upon us you joy. Let your joy influence the people around us. Let your joy come alive and captivate the people we meet. Let your joy be contagious. Let others capture your joy and experience your love and peace along with it. Let everyone we meet; every place we go; every word we share; let it be sprinkled, covered, and saturated with your joy. Let your joy be our strength through calamities and trials and tests. Let everything we say, think, and do explode with your joy. Amen
Yours In Christ,
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